First Leap Virtual Information Session

Join us on February 8th from 6 PM - 7 PM


First Leap is led by Azriel Weaver, a Pittsburgh-based business coach specializing in supporting creative entrepreneurs. Additional guest experts and experienced business owners will join First Leap sessions to share their special insights and experience. Participating entrepreneurs will hone the skills needed to build a solid business foundation and realize meaningful impact in their communities. First Leap guidance is delivered by experts in business fundamentals and experienced creative business owners.

Through an application process, Bridgeway Capital’s Creative Business Accelerator (CBA) will select 15 emerging creative entrepreneurs and guide them through an intensive yet supportive 8-week program, then provide opportunities for ongoing support after the sessions to achieve business goals.


First Leap participants will:

  • Learn from creative business owners who can provide real-world insights on how to grow and scale.
  • Hear from experts on topics such as legal considerations, business finances, and successful marketing strategies.
  • Develop an actionable business plan that positions business owners to access capital (through grants and loans), hire, or reach other entrepreneurial goals.

Applications Open on February 1st, 2023

Join our info session to learn more

Learn More


    • Identifies as an artist, maker, designer, craftsperson, and/or small-batch manufacturer*
    • Has operated a creative business for a minimum of one year (has sold products or services)
    • Has access to a computer and the internet (to complete homework)
    • Aspires to become a full-time creative business owner
    • Able to attend in-person sessions at the CBA’s classroom in Homewood, PA
    • Participating or willing to participate in CBA
    • Agrees to complete pre- and post-program surveys


  • BIPOC, women, and/or veteran-owned creative businesses
  • Entrepreneurs living and/or operating a business in low to moderate-income areas
  • Entrepreneurs seeking a loan from Bridgeway Capital
  • Please visit the PA Council on the Arts for samples of creative business types that would likely realize the most success in the First Leap Program

Program Benefits and Goals

Phase One: Build the Plan

  • Participants join a cohort of 15 creative businesses that connect in person over the course of the program and are encouraged to continue peer-to-peer learning and support after the program is
  • Join an 8-week intensive business development curriculum that emphasizes identifying growth goals such as hiring, activating production and retail spaces, and increasing sales and visibility.
  • Learn from an experienced creative business owner and a team of business management experts

Phase Two: Start the Plan

  • After the 8-week intensive, participants receive 6 months of ongoing support to put their plan into action
  • Participants with business plans will be eligible to apply for Creative Entrepreneur Accelerator grants of up to $2,000 from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and patient and flexible loan capital from Bridgeway Capital. Learn more about the $2,000 Creative Entrepreneurship Accelerator grant (Eligibility to apply does not guarantee access to funds)
  • Work with free business coaches to achieve your business goals
  • Pursue funding opportunities with ongoing support from Bridgeway Capital


Session Dates

Thursday Evenings

From 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

March 20th – May 8th

Sarah B. Campbell Enterprise Center
7800 Susquehanna Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15208

First Leap sessions will be held in person at the Sarah B. Campbell Enterprise Center at Bridgeway Capital’s 7800 Susquehanna Street building. Participants are expected to attend all eight two-hour learning sessions and complete assignments outside of classroom time. On average, First Leap requires 5-8 hours weekly to participate. This challenging and exciting program culminates in a graduation event celebrating participants’ hard work and accomplishments.

Session Topics

Session 1: The Company Overview

  • Unpacking your goals for launching/growing a creative business
  • Developing a business concept around your creative output
  • Designing your unique value proposition, mission, and vision
  • Developing a business plan outline for your business concept

Session 2: Defining Your Products & Customers

  • Evaluating the deliverables (products, services, and pricing)
  • How to identify your target market
  • Customer personas

Session 3: Marketing Strategies

  • Developing short & long-term marketing strategies
  • Marketing assets and the basics of branding
  • Vetting marketing opprtunities

Session 4: Sales Channels

  • Creating a sustainable action plan and sales strategy
  • Using customer personas to identify sales channels
  • Combining sales and marketing

Session 5: Business Operations

  • Entity Formation
  • Basic legal considerations
  • Tax compliance
  • Key partners, advisors, and technology

Session 6: Finances

  • Assessing your financial needs
  • The basics of pricing for profit
  • Understanding budgeting and cash flow

Session 7: Funding Your Business

  • Funding options for creative businesses
  • Steps to prepare for funding
  • Understanding credit

Session 8: Graduation

  • A short presentation from each participant  highlighting their first leap goals and how they will achieve it
  • A celebration with peers, friends, and family

Check out Past Next Leap Participants

The Creative Business Accelerator (CBA)

The CBA helps creative businesses grow their businesses in ways that support equitable economic development. Questions? Contact us to start a conversation.

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